Moving So Fast… but are we Going Forward?

I heard a presentation about the future of higher education – the crux of the speaker’s assertion was that college would cease to exist the way it did in my day — you know, the dormitories, classrooms, chalk-and-talk lectures, and hushed libraries.

I don’t doubt this, although I am sad.  Not sad to see the chalk-and-talk lectures disappear, or even classrooms, for that matter, as there are so many more effective ways to create oustanding learning outcomes.  But I am sad to see the potential future that has our youth learning from their bedrooms, or kitchen tables (likely in their parents’ homes), and missing out on the incredible social education that comes along with dormitories, finals week, and football games.

Where will they learn time management?  Teamwork?  How to find their car keys? (OK, I guess I didn’t learn that in college either… but you get the idea.) Read more

WOW! Exciting Things in Education

I recently attended Pearson’s on-line learning conference, CITE, in Orlando, and was fortunate to have been included in their keynote panel on student services.  It was very exciting to hear what colleges around the US are doing to serve students and improve student outcomes in the online learning space.

What really knocked my socks off was the presentations I saw about how traditional “on ground” campuses are creating true blended learning environments that leverage technology and classroom learning formats to meet students where they learn the best.

Among the innovations was a story that Dr. Klaus Woelk, from Missouri University of Science and Technology, who shared a story about a large lecture class that was delivered through live (synchronous) online modes, as well as in the classroom.  Students in any location (classroom, or watching online), can send questions through text message systems leveraging Google, classroom clickers were used to facilitate discussion and peer-to-peer learning, and then video and internet were used as well. Read more

What’s Cookin’ at The Sparrow Group

We are very excited to have put the final touches on our innovative “Ready 4 Work” program.  This program leverages what we’ve learned through our highly successful “Portfolio Project” and the “WOW” incentive program — and creates one comprehensive, two-part program that covers every component of Career Services effectiveness.

From Admissions to Alumni Relations, the Ready 4 Work program ensures that student expectations are set properly, that they become prepared to gain employment when they graduate, and that they communicate with you after graduation. Read more

Next Step to Teach at the Next Level

No matter what your current role you have the opportunity to teach other people.  Whether through small one-on-one moments, or in large-group settings where you are officially a “teacher.”

The challenge in these situations is that so often we assume the lesson is learned by just telling the information — and that is rarely the case.

Dr. Eric Mazur, recently spoke at the Turning Technologies Users Conference in San Diego.  His program reiterated the importance of peer-to-peer teaching.  Even something as simple as asking someone to paraphrase information back to you, can have a profound impact on what they learn, and how long they remember it.
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Graduate Placement — Maximizing Career Service Staff Skills

We CAN do it all — the question is, can we do it all well?

We hire people who are passionate about helping students, nurturing their confidence, and preparing them for interviews.

This same advisor is then also required to make countless cold calls to employers to identify new job leads, attend dozens of networking events, write and mail letters to employers, etc.

We ask them to be social worker and cold-caller — two disparate functions that rarely reside comfortably in the same person, creating a career services function that is not likely to fire on all cylinders.

Consider the environment where these conflicting tasks are broken into two positions — a community outreach person (employer relations focused on finding and generating job leads), and a student-facing advisor.   By separating the employer relations function — you will empower the advisors to focus on excelent student relationships and job search skills, and improve their job satisfaction — and likely increase graduate preparedness. Read more

Excellence in Placement Outcomes — It Takes a Village

Placement outcomes have oft been relegated to the career services department on campus.  That department lives or dies on their relationships with students, and the preparedness of same, yet other departments on campus are rarely accountable to preparedness measures and/or placement outcomes.

In the new college environment, employment outcomes must be at the forefront of thinking for all departments, and all staff and faculty.  This opinion isn’t rocket science — what does appear to be rocket science is how to implement campus-wide ownership of employment outcomes.

Innovative private-sector colleges, and other campuses across America are implementing extraordinary programs that capture key areas to drive accountability for employment outcomes, including:

  • Compensation plans for every member of staff that have at least some component tied to placement outcomes for the campus
  • Student-facing programs, including at the point of admission, that reinforce the importance of pursuing a career in their field of study — some even go so far as to have students sign a letter committing to seeking employment
  • Regular and comprehensive communication plans to make staff and faculty aware of employment outcomes, and forecasting employment challenges in the future

And, perhaps most importantly:

  • Aggressive and comprehensive market analysis programs that analyze present and future employment needs within a reasonable geography and then dare to ask the tough questions about eliminating programs that are popular, but have limited employment potential.

It truly does take the village — and not just the village within your campus walls, but those villagers outside, such as key employers, educators at other institutions, even the competition.  How are your partnerships with those external constituencies?

Assess the strength of your village today — will it raise and send forth graduates that are prepared to become successfully employed in their field of study?

Change our Minds

We get to choose — today, more than ever — where we are going to get our news, and whom we will trust to tell us how we should feel about what’s going on around us.

Unfortunately, we’re all choosing to go only to those places that “agree with us” and our views are getting more and more extreme, and seemingly, we are getting less and less tolerant of differing opinions.

This week, choose to get your news from someone new.  Listen with an open mind, and do some research to understand how they arrived at their opinions, and then spend some time figuring out what you CAN agree with.  If we all went through this exercise every week, I suspect we’d find new views, and ultimately, new solutions to the questions that are challenging us currently.

Dare to change your mind this week.  On one thing, or maybe several.  Then, dare to respectfully help someone change theirs, too.